Understanding the Types of Bursitis

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that function as cushions between joints and muscles, bones, and tendons. The condition of inflamed bursae is commonly referred to as bursitis.   Bursitis is relatively common, but pinpointing it as the cause of pain can be challenging. It may be difficult to diagnose bursitis because many people who have it choose to take its treatment into their own hands instead of seeking out the care of a doctor or physical therapist. This only exacerbates the problem, leading to more discomfort down the road.

Iliopsoas Bursitis

The iliopsoas is a compound muscle formed by the iliacus and psoas major muscles. As a combination of two muscles, the iliopsoas is made up of two individual muscles that merge at the femur, or thigh bone. Some possible causes of iliopsoas bursitis include:

  • Chronic conditions
  • Tight hips as a result of excessive sitting or driving
  • Repetitive use

Some symptoms of iliopsoas bursitis to be aware of are:

  • Pain when going from a seated position to standing upright
  • Extreme discomfort when lifting or extending one or both legs
  • Pain from walking down and up a set of stairs
  • More discomfort than usual from regular exercise

Achilles Tendon Bursitis

The Achilles tendon is a strong band of fibrous tissue that connects calf muscles to the heel bone. As the largest and strongest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon stretches when the calf muscles are flexed. Some common causes of Achilles tendon bursitis include:

  • Arthritis
  • Improper or inappropriate shoe wearing and use
  • Overuse of the tendon

Some symptoms of Achilles tendon bursitis include:

  • Crackling sounds when the foot is flexed
  • Redness or warmth on the back of the heel
  • Discomfort wearing shoes
  • Pain in the calf muscles when walking or running
  • Stiffness and loss of movement
  • Swelling around the back of the heel area
  • Pain from leaning back on the heels

Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis can come from a variety of different sources. Some causes of elbow bursitis include:

  • Trauma
  • Excess pressure
  • Repetitive motion for excessive periods of time

Some symptoms of elbow bursitis include:

  • Redness and/or warmth in the affected area
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of movement
  • Difficulty bending and straightening elbow
  • Increased sensitivity to touch

Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis is the swelling or redness of the area between the top of the arm bone and the tip of the shoulder. Some causes of shoulder bursitis include: 

  • Bone spurs or calcium deposits
  • Poor posture
  • Advanced age
  • Shoulder injury or trauma
  • Overuse

It is important to note that shoulder bursitis, as well as knee bursitis, can be caused by frequent mini traumas. People most frequently associated with this type of bursitis are swimmers, baseball pitchers, painters and tennis players.

Some symptoms of shoulder bursitis include:

  • Shoulder pain when raising your arm
  • Decreased range of motion in the shoulder joint
  • Swelling and redness around the shoulder region
  • Pain outside or around the tip of the shoulder
  • Extreme sensitivity when you touch your shoulder

Knee Bursitis

You may be more likely to develop knee bursitis if you have any of these risk factors:

  • A previous injury
  • Prolonged, repetitive kneeling
  • Additional conditions such as gout, pseudo-gout, knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

Symptoms of knee bursitis (these can vary depending on the cause of inflammation and the affected bursae):

  • Tender feeling in the knee
  • Warmth or swelling when pressure is applied
  • Pain when moving or at rest

Hip/Trochanteric Bursitis

The hips are a common site of bursitis for many individuals. Some common causes of hip bursitis include:

  • Tight muscles
  • Previous surgery
  • Age and being female (men are less likely to develop hip bursitis)
  • Constant pressure
  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

The development of hip bursitis can be exacerbated by certain pre-existing conditions such as RA (rheumatoid arthritis), scoliosis or spinal curvature, osteoarthritis, weak hip muscles, or unequal leg length.

Some symptoms of hip bursitis include:

  • Swelling and warmth around the affected area
  • Over time, the bursae may thicken, causing limited movement and weakened muscles due to the worsened swelling
  • For trochanteric bursitis, the primary symptom is hip pain. In the early stages it can be sharp and intense. In the later stages, the ache can spread across a larger hip area.

Rely on Excel Physical Therapy to Treat Bursitis

We will be happy to discuss treatment options with you and develop the best care for your speedy recovery.  We use individualized approach tailored to your needs. 

Regardless of the type of bursitis you are suffering, at Excel Physical Therapy we can help! Our highest priority is to help alleviate your pain and return you back to a healthy life.

Contact us today to get the help you need.

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